Dates of Program: August 2004 through November 2010
Field of Work: Increasing access to flu shots and other preventive services
Problem Synopsis: Every year, approximately 36,000 influenza-associated deaths occur in the United States and approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized. The likelihood of receiving the recommended flu vaccine varies greatly depending on an individual's ethnicity, race, education, and whether he/she has a regular source of health care.
Synopsis of the Work: In 2004, RWJF launched Vote and Vaccinate: A Community-Based Strategy to Promote Adult Immunization (known as Vote & Vax), which sets up influenza vaccination clinics at or near polling places, with a pilot test on Election Day. The program continued as a larger demonstration during the 2006 midterm election. A concerted expansion of the program took place during the presidential election two years later and the program continued through the 2010 midterm election.
Key Results: The Vote & Vax program has demonstrated that a polling place-centered strategy for delivering the influenza vaccine can be effectively implemented in a large number of states and different types of community, according to Program Director Douglas Shenson, MD, MPH, MS.
From the 2004 election through election 2010, close to 40,000 flu shots have been administered through more than 460 Vote & Vax clinics in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
About half of the recipients did not usually get flu shots. Among Blacks, Hispanics, and people without health insurance, between 60 and 71 percent did not usually get flu shots.
Vote & Vax is a well-established resource (through its website and the technical assistance it offers) for mass immunizers seeking new avenues through which to provide flu shots, particularly to populations that have traditionally lacked access to regular immunization.
Vote & Vax is extending its reach through connections with local pharmacies, pharmacy chains and pharmacies that are part of larger retail chains (e.g., CVS, Walgreen’s, Rite Aid, and Kmart) that provide easy-to-access flu shots.
Vote & Vax has highlighted the role of the polling place as a platform for other public health interventions and a prototype for a disaster preparedness strategy.